Sunday, December 16, 2018

Are They Trolling Me? A Test

I have already written a blog post about spotting trolls, but thought I'd present some of those thoughts again in a somewhat more systematized, handier fashion--in the form of a test to which people can reasonably put an interlocutor's statements. Admittedly based on limited personal experience I don't claim that it is scientific or pretend that it is foolproof, but I find the essentials handy, think others might find them handy too, and that feedback from others might help develop this into something better, so here it goes--a set of questions with differing weights.

1. Did they butt into a conversation already ongoing between other people? (10 points)

2. If they butted in, was it into the conversation of people who clearly had a very different attitude toward the subject matter? (For example, a #MAGA butting into a conversation between two #Resist in a thread started by another #Resist account's Retweeting an item from a progressive media outlet?) (10 points)

3. Are they just using this as an occasion to inflict talking points on people they seem well aware have no interest in hearing them (rather than engaging others in a manner indicative of genuine interest in their thoughts and opinions)? (20 points)

4. Are they demanding that other people provide lavish defenses for their opinions? (10 points)

5. Are they trying to press the other person into agreeing with them? For example, do they keep repeating their talking points in a manner suggestive of pressuring them, or asking the same questions over and over again after the object of their questioning has given them all the answer they have to offer? (20 points)

6. Do they use insults or make personal attacks? (30 points)

Bonus Question: Does their profile flaunt a troll's attitude? Trolls are often proud of their activity, such that I have seen some declare that they are trolls in their Twitter profile, while others, only slightly less subtle, boast in transgressive ways about their mean-spiritedness and sadism to shock, offend or intimidate, in their imagery as well as in their words. (This can include reference to or glorification of violent acts in their handles and profile pictures; it may also include the celebration of much maligned figures or evocations of their ideology as studied provocations.) (40 points-and just 40 points because even a troll might not be a troll all the time.)

Ask each of these questions in regard to the suspected troll, and add up the points warranted by each "Yes." Someone who scores a 30 is suspect as a troll, someone who scores a 40 is likely to be that, someone who scores a 50 or more probably that.

The first six questions allow for a score of 100, while adding in the bonus question permits a maximum score of 140.

As that suggests, trolls, by nature unsubtle, tend to give themselves away very early on in the game. I think it best to take the hint, and best that you also do the same. Do not fall for the lie that you are being a thin-skinned "snowflake" or intolerant of "free speech." Accusations that a person is thin-skinned for simply not accepting abuse is how a bully talks. ("What, can't take a joke? Don't you have any sense of humor? You're no fun.") And respect for freedom of speech does not mean that you are personally required to spend every waking moment of the rest of your life being an audience for people who disagree with you--and still less, people who are promoting ideas that are genuinely loathsome. (I'm making a value judgment here, and not apologizing for it.) Feel free to cut a troll off as soon as you have become convinced of their purpose. Mute, block and REPORT as seems appropriate to you.


Nora said...


Nader said...

Sorry for the delay in replying. (Missed the message.)
Thanks for writing!

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